The Scoop on Sports Drinks

Do kids really benefit from them?
The Scoop on Sports Drinks
Michael Grimm

Kids may be eager to gulp down sports drinks after basketball practice, but are the beverages necessary? On one hand, hydration is vital, and sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade contain water, carbs, and electrolytes (including sodium and potassium) -- and the taste may encourage children to down more needed fluids.

On the other hand, "it's unlikely that children who participate in youth athletics would require these beverages," notes Lawrence E. Armstrong, Ph.D., professor of environmental and exercise physiology at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. "A child's well-balanced diet provides ample amounts of electrolytes, water, and carbohydrates."

Dr. Armstrong offers this smart rule to play by: Sports drinks are better than water only when exercise is strenuous and continuous, lasting for at least 50 to 60 minutes, or if your child has a preexisting mineral or carbohydrate deficiency.

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Copyright © 2001. Reprinted with permission from the March 2001 issue of Child magazine.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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